ENGN is EVLution Nutrition’s flagship pre-workout which contains a pretty well-rounded blend of ergogenics, focus ingredients, and Caffeine…
Beta Alanine is a non-essential amino acid that serves as a precursor to the amino acid Carnosine, which acts as a lactic acid buffer, effectively reducing muscular fatigue. Like Creatine, Beta Alanine takes time to accumulate, but if taken over a sustained period of time, can also be an extremely effective performance enhancing supplement with a strong safety profile.
One study in particular that measured the carnosine levels of sprinters found that individuals with higher muscular Carnosine levels exhibited higher power output in the latter half of a 30m sprint (because they had less lactic acid build-up). Various studies have shown that Beta Alanine supplementation increases muscular Carnosine, which improves physical performance.
In particular, a 2012 study published in “Amino Acids” found that subjects who consumed 1.6 or 3.2 grams of Beta Alanine daily experienced significant increases in muscle carnosine in as little as two weeks, with the higher dose achieving a higher concentration of Carnosine. ENGN contains 1.6g Beta-Alanine per serving, an effective dose.
Creatine has the ability to rapidly produce ATP (cellular energy) to support cellular function (as in exercise). During high intensity exercise, Creatine is used for energy which tends to spare the glycogen that would normally be used. Since lactic acid is a by-product created when glucose is burned for energy, Creatine may also indirectly reduce lactic acid build-up. Creatine has consistently been demonstrated to increase power output as well as muscle size, with maximum benefit achieved at around 8 weeks of consistent supplementation.
It is generally recommended to consume 5 grams per day but lower doses (minimum of 3 grams) can still be effective if consumed over a longer period of time. 2 grams daily has been demonstrated to maintain creatine levels (but not increase them) in athletes. Creatine comes in various forms, the most common of which is Creatine Monohydrate, which is formed by dehydrating a solution of Creatine, where a single water molecule remains bound to the Creatine powder. ENGN contains both Creatine Monohydrate and Creatine Magnesium Chleate which is Creatine bonded to Magnesium.
Whether this makes a much of a difference in terms of absorption is still unclear. ENGN contains a total of 2 grams of Creatine, which is certainly enough to maintain adequate Creatine stores, though probably will not increase levels in individuals who work-out frequently.
Betaine Anhydrous, also known as Trimethylglycine, was first isolated from beets (hence the name ‘betaine’), and is currently under investigation for a variety of benefits, some of which pertain to physical performance enhancement.
A 2010 study from the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that daily supplementation with 1.25 grams of Betaine positively influenced strength and power.
A 2011 study, published in the “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research”, found that subjects who consumed 2.5 grams of betaine daily for 14 days were able to achieve more repetitions while bench pressing. The researchers in this study also noted signs of increased muscular oxygen consumption.
A 2013 study, published in “Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition” found that 6 weeks of daily Betaine supplementation improved body composition, arm size, bench press work capacity as well as power (but not strength).
While Betaine has shown tons of promise in several studies, it has also failed to do so in others, so the scientific community as a whole is still on the fense about it. Personally, we’re leaning more toward the pro-betaine side. While EVLution does not disclose the exact amount of Betaine present in the ENGN formula, we estimate it is roughly in-line with the 1.25g dose demonstrated to convey performance benefit.
Tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid which serves as a precursor to the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine, the three of which are collectively referred to as ‘catecholamines’. A 1981 study found that subjects who consumed 100mg/kg of Tyrosine experienced a significant increase in urinary catecholamine levels, but supplemental Tyrosine has failed to produce the performance enhancing effects commonly associated with increased release of catecholamine.
This is because Tyrosine does not instantly get converted into noradrenaline, dopamine, or adrenaline. It forms a pool, and when there is a deficit of catecholamines, the pool is drawn from to create more. So rather than directly improving physical performance, Tyrosine has demonstrated the ability to improve aspects of cognitive function in the presence of an acute stressor (sleep deprivation, exposure to cold, and possibly exercise). In other words, Tyrosine may restore levels of dopamine, noradrenaline, and adrenaline when necessary, but does not increase them beyond normal levels.
Very little is known about Agmatine, although it possesses a variety of implications. The proposed benefits include: Increased growth hormone production, anti-oxidant properties, increased Nitric Oxide (NO), and fat loss, though none of these claims have been completely substantiated. Recently, Agmatine has become quite pervasive in pre-workout supplements because of its alleged ability to inhibit Nitric Oxide Synthase (an enzyme that breaks down excess NO). However, lack of sufficient evidence makes us skeptical of this claim. In fact, Agmatine has been shown to do the opposite. A 2000 study, published in the “Journal of Brain Research”, found that Agmatine actually suppressed NO production in microglia (glial cells in the brain which mainly protect neurons).
It should be noted that NO can be harmful to neurons, and the conclusion of the study was that Agmatine may support cognitive function. Furthermore, it is possible that Agmatine suppresses NO in microglia but not elsewhere. However, these findings certainly do not lend credibility to the notion that it increases NO. Further research should shed some light on the proposed benefits of Agmatine, but for now there is just not enough evidence for us to get behind it as a vasodilator (though cognitive benefits seem more likely).
Caffeine is the most widely consumed psychoactive substance in the world, and is a well-established ergogenic aid. Caffeine consumption causes an increase in Catecholamines (Adrenaline, Noradrenaline, and Dopamine), which tend to increase focus, concentration, and perceived energy while simultaneously promoting fat oxidation. However, the weight loss effects of caffeine tend to fade with prolonged use, so it does not appear as though caffeine is a long-term effective fat burner. While caffeine’s weight loss potential is negligible, it increases focus and perceived energy in most people, which generally leads to more intense workouts (thus burning more fat), and may act as a mild appetite suppressant in some.
Dicaffeine Malate is simply a combination of Caffeine and Malic Acid. While Creative Compounds, the manufacturer of Infinergy, claims a variety of additional benefits over what can be achieved with regular caffeine, there are no scientific studies to support these claims. Malic Acid plays a role in energy production, but supplementation has never been shown to increase energy in healthy individuals, so for now we would consider Dicaffeine Malate just another form of Caffeine.
Glycerophosphatidylcholine aka Alpha GPC is a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Recently, it has gained a lot of attention in the bodybuilding/weight lifting community because its alleged ability to boost HGH (Human Growth Hormone) secretion with just a single dose. Indeed one study found that after ingesting a dose of 1000mg of Alpha GPC, HGH levels in the blood were significantly higher than the placebo group. In addition, it was noted that supplementation also resulted in increased “hepatic fat oxidation” (in the liver). Alpha GPC is widely considered the most bioavailable form of choline, although studies comparing the bioavailability of various forms are scarce. Over time, alpha GPC may increase the levels of acetylcholine in the brain. Increased acetylcholine levels are associated with better concentration, memory, and reaction time.
Choline, once inside the body, is converted into the neurotransmitter acetylcholine which is associated with many functions including (but not limited to) memory, attention, and muscle control. It is the neurotransmitter most closely associated with the “mind-muscle connection” (although this may be something of an over-simplification), and therefore of much interest to athletes and bodybuilders alike. While certain forms of choline may be associated with increased muscular power output (namely Alpha GPC), Choline Bitartrate is generally considered the least bioavailable choline source, though oral doses of 1000-2000mg have still been shown to increase serum choline levels significantly.
A 2012 study published in the “British Journal of Nutrition” found that 1 gram of Choline Bitartrate was able to significantly increase, not only plasma choline levels, but also plasma Betaine levels. Betaine itself is commonly included in pre-workout formulas as it has been shown, in some cases, to increase power output. While Choline Bitartrate has not been studies in regards to performance enhancement, it is just as effective at increasing Betaine as supplemental Betaine, meaning it may very well convey the same performance enhancement benefits.
Pikamilon (alternatively spelled ‘Picamilon’) is formed by combining Niacin (vitamin B3) and GABA (the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in mammals). Pikamilon is able to effectively cross the blood-brain-barrier where it is converted into GABA. Since GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter (as opposed to excitatory) it may produce anxiolytic effects when levels are increased beyond normal. For this reason, Pikamilon is touted as an anxiolytic. However, it has also been demonstrated to increase cerebral blood flow in animals, due to its niacin component (niacin is a vasodilator). Despite a fair amount of efficacy demonstrated in animal studies for both cerebral vasodilation and as an anxiolytic, human studies remain scarce. This is likely because there are better (pharmaceutical grade) anxiolytic compounds as well as cerebral vasodilators. As far as a direct effect on exercise capacity, there are no studies but the theoretical mechanisms of action exist.
Huperzine A is an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor which means it blocks the enzyme that breaks down the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, resulting in increased levels of acetylcholine. Acetylcholine controls skeletal muscl and is largely responsible for the ‘mind-muscle connection’ that fitness experts often talk about. In addition to controlling the muscles, acetylcholine is also involved in learning, memory, decision making, and various other mental activities. Huperzine A, combined with the above mentioned Alpha GPC and Choline Bitartrate, may very well increase levels of acetylcholine to a significant and noticeable degree over time.
The Bottom Line
From an ingredient standpoint, ENGN is one of the most complete pre-workout formulas available. Though we cannot be completely sure of the doses of several of the ingredients within the proprietary blend, 2.21 grams is enough to contain sufficient doses of Betaine, Caffeine, etc. The inclusion of multiple forms of Choline (Including Alpha GPC) sets the formula apart from most other pre-workouts, and users are likely to notice these effects when consumed on a regular basis over time. The formula is not overly stimulant-dependent, but likely contains enough caffeine for most individuals to feel noticeably more alert and focused. We’d like to stress that this formula is not for those who prefer extreme stimulation.
Still not sure which pre-workout is right for you? Check out our Top 10 Pre-Workout Supplements List!
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